EXCLUSIVE: China trying to force their version of TPPA on us now!


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If you were breathing a sigh of relief that the TPPA may fall to the vagaries of US politics – perhaps the only good thing to come out of either a Clinton or Trump win, if they actually do as they say – I have bad news.

There’s another dangerous 4 letter negotiation in town this week, meeting behind closed doors in Sky City – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP. Most of the same players. Japan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam from the TPPA. South Korea, with whom NZ signed a deal last year modelled on its terrible deal with the US – one of those that Obama demanded was revised further in the US favour before he would bring it into force. The rest of the ASEAN countries – Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, Laos and Cambodia – with whom Australia and NZ already have a deal. And India.

RCEP is China’s counter to the TPPA. The US sees this as a battleground for control of the Asia Pacific. In Clinton’s desperation to sell the TPPA, he has been playing the China card for all he’s worth. Last month Obama took China-bashing to a new level:

‘As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk. … The world has changed. The rules are changing with it. The United States, not countries like China, should write them. Let’s seize the opportunity, pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make sure America isn’t holding the bag, but holding the pen’.   

He was talking about the previous round of RCEP negotiations in Perth. This week’s round, from 12 to 18 June, is the 13th. Yet almost no-one hear has heard about it. That’s partly because the TPPA has hogged the limelight as the focus of government and corporate priorities and (rightly) of our opposition.

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It’s also because RCEP is shrouded in the same obsessive secrecy as the TPPA even without the formal secrecy pact of the TPPA. New Trade Minister Todd McClay, who promised a new regime of openness, refused to release even a full list of the chapters under negotiation after an Official Information Act request.

According to McClay, the parties have been urged to safeguard the confidentiality of all negotiating documents. That’s probably because it has started to leak, albeit more slowly than the TPPA. The October 2015 investment and intellectual property chapters are posted on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website. Hopefully there are more to come.

At least we have got them to agree to ‘stakeholder’ sessions on Tuesday afternoon when the hard questions can be put to negotiators. From experience in TPPA, we don’t expect any answers …

Here’s five reasons why we need to get RCEP on our radar and treat it as the flip side of TPPA.

  • First, if the TPPA doesn’t come into force – which is about a 50/50 chance at present and almost zero in its current form – then RCEP will become the rule-setting agreement for the Asia Pacific. It follows broadly the same model as the TPPA, less extreme in places, but equally toxic in parts that matter. The leaked investment and IP chapters show Japan and South Korea are trying to export some of the worst parts of TPPA into RCEP. If we don’t want the TPPA, we have don’t want it through the back door of RCEP either.
  • Second, some parts of RCEP are worse than TPPA. It looks like there is no labour or environment chapter to provide even a pretence of balancing the damaging impacts of other rules, especially on investment. China is proposing investor-state disputes take place in secret, with no access to documents by people in the country being sued and no ability for those who are affected to try to submit amicus curiae briefs.
  • Third, there is more internal resistance within RCEP than in TPPA and a chance to push for alternatives to the TPPA. That doesn’t address the fundamental problems with such deals, but it shows some countries are committed to finding substantial rather than cosmetic fixed. India, in particular, is pushing for an alternative approach to investment based on a new model for investment agreements it adopted late last year, and as the world’s largest generic medicines exporter has been opposing some of the strongest new monopoly powers for Big Pharma.  The New Zealand government should be asked whether it is supporting India, and if not why not.
  • Fourth, the Waitangi Tribunal said the government needed to talk with Maori about strong protections for the Treaty of Waitangi and their other interests. Those talks are just beginning. It need to conduct those discussions with a broad range of Maori in good faith and reach an agreed outcome before it tables anything in RCEP. This is the chance to build on the arguments from the Waitangi Tribunal for the future.
  • Lastly, there is no upside to this agreement, just as there wasn’t with the TPPA. Given the existing web of agreements the only new market access for exports would come from India, and they have proposed giving NZ and Australia very little. They are likely to use it with the same shonky modelling they used for TPPA. One of the authors of the Tufts University study that blew holes in that modelling, Dr Jomo Sundaram, is in NZ next week and will be talking about this with MPs in Wellington and at public meetings there and in Auckland (see below).

The special investor protections and rights to sue, potential TPPA-style restriction on medicine patents, and additional fetters on the government’s right to regulate, include the finance sector, plus other unknown content, make this another unbalanced deal. A proper cost-benefit analysis is needed while negotiations are in train that put the burden of proof on the government to justify even being at the table.

Ultimately, we know why they are there and why they want to keep it secret. This is about locking in the failed neoliberal model and trying to remain besties with both the US and Japan. Neither is sustainable or in the nation’s interest. It’s time for us to get off this merry go round and focus on what kind of economic model and international relations are going to work for the people of Aotearoa in the future.
What can you do? There is a public meeting in Wellington on Thursday 16 June, 6pm at Massey University Museum Theatre (10A01 Buckle St) and for Aucklanders at 6.30 pm on Friday 17 June at St Matthew in the City. More on the itsourfuture facebook page and a short explanation of RCEP will be on the itsourfuture website early next week.


    • These agreements are more to do with investment and sovereignty than they are to do with trade.

      Trade is simply used to pitch the agreements to unsuspecting public without having to talk about the accompanying loss of democratic control.

      Obviously you have been suckered in this respect, Gosman.

      • 1000% Goseman would sell his/her soul if it hasn’t already just foe the name of “Trade”

        No morals or principals at all like Joyce his buddy.

      • It is a simple question. I wanted to find out if Ms Kelsey understands the purpose of trade. Do you?

        • I think you’ll find that even most two year olds understand the principles of trade.

          Or are you referring to social and political relationships and other such matters frequently passed off as being involved in trade, but in fact are not ‘trade’ in it’s correct definition?

              • I’m not sure why you’re not getting a straight answer, but can I try?

                Nations trade to:

                1. Acquire goods and services they cannot produce/supply themselves, or can source at lower cost than they can produce/supply themselves.
                2. Sell goods and services they can produce/supply competitively in order to pay for imported goods and services.

                There are other important reasons, such as empowering and reducing the need for aid to developing nations, building relationships with other nations.

                I read Jane’s article in full, but as with most of what she writes I find her utterly divorced from the real world in which as a nation we live, work and trade.

                • Thank you. Actually the first point you made is the purpose of trade. The second is only necessary because you need to pay for the first. Most people don’t understand this though. They think the purpose of trade is the second (to sell). It makes a huge difference.

                  • I’m really short with you because you write like a 1st year economic student who learnt just enough to post never ending comments to prop up your idiotic arguments.

                    In either the TPPA or this new RECP there are no quality controls that New Zealand has. That will undermine any attempts made by New Zealand to export which would fail your secound test and create a trade enbalance. That’s a hall mark of any new trade theory.

                    As a mater a fact go back to school idiot

                  • What makes the major HUGE difference Gossy is to trade responsibly so that all parties win on all levels. Your pro TPPA uninformed lot do not realize that these ” non-trade ” agreements are all about corporate gain and corporate greed and control.
                    They will hurt the people and the environment and the countries and they need to be stopped. Get informed Gos as your ignorance and bias is showing yet again.

          • Depends on how you define positive but it does go to the heart of my question. What is the point of trade?

        • Well, Gosman, if you suspect she doesn’t, perhaps you could embark on a decades long career of an equal calibre as hers, then come and report back to us. In the meantime, you might kindly f**k off for 20 years while you do your research.

          Don’t worry, we’ll save you a biscuit.

          • That is pretty much the same level of discussion that Cleangreen was engaging in that you decried below. I have simply asked a question that shoulkd be easy to answer. What is the purpose of trade? Care to answer it?

            • If you really need tutoring in trade I can school you in it for a fee. Please message me your contact details so I can get back to u


    • Thanks for such a comprehensive work.

      We’ve had this one two punch before (eg CAM, closely followed by something similar once it became clear it wasn’t gonna happen). Possibly effective because it wears potential objectors out with subtle changes.

    • We want to trade Maori people were trading back in the 1960s using our own vessels we don’t want trade that tramps on us as a people and our culture. The trade deals at the moment are all about richer and powerful countries and what gains they can get. Trade is good but it must be fair to all.

    • It’s not trade [Gosman] .

      You are the right wing troll so bye bye and slink back to your right wing extremist’s OWG mates as we don’t need your bullshit any more!

      [Cleangreen, I’ve corrected the spelling of Gosman’s username. I am not a fan of contributors abusing each other by deliberately mis-spelling usernames as a form of insult. I have trashed several submitted comments by right-wing commentators because of such abuse. I think we can be better than that. – ScarletMod]

      • ScarletMod – Thank you. I hate it just as much when people here use names like “Shonkey JohnKey” or “Natzis” just as much as I hated it when the trend on othr forums was “Helen Klark” or “Feminazis” or “Libtards.”

        If we can’t have a forum where we attack ideas rather than identities, then we may as well just all piss off back to the herald.

      • Agreed Scarlet Mod,

        It’s just that Gosman has been the troll for Planet Key;s toxic agenda and always disrupts all left wing sites before every election. (keep an eye on this one please)

        We had many pointless trash blogs from this troll before the last election and we had that type of disruption finally resolved when the moderator in august close this pointless interjection down.

        I just thought you should know in case you haven’t known about our last issues back during the last election.
        Perhaps Crosby Textor has many of these disruptive right wing trolls trying to close down our chat blogs?

    • For both parties to share what they have and receive something they don’t have in order to mutually benefit their own, unique circumstances. This is not a trade deal, it is a war on freedom and the democracy of minnow sovereign entities.

  1. There is very little we know for certain about trade but we do know for certain that the more international trade there is, the faster the human species will terminate life on this planet (including human life, of course) via abrupt climate change brought about by industrially-generated CO2 emissions and other pollutants.

    Daily CO2

    June 11, 2016: 407.40 ppm

    June 11, 2015: 403.22 ppm

    The case for immediately shutting down all non-essential trade is uncontestable, which is why the government -in their fact-free fantasy world of money laundering and Ponzi schemes- will promote exactly the opposite of what is required.

  2. When Puerto Rico defaulted which is the registered headquarters for US Inc that country became bankrupt. US is now propped up by the Chinese government. There are many research avenues but Benjamin Fulford might be reliable. The internet is rife with talk about a change of government in the US – a return to a Republic and Constitution as written being implemented. The Paris Climate Change talks were about climate? Yosef says no. Here’s his take : http://www.ascensionwithearth.com/2016/06/yosef-update-june-10-2016.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ascensionwithearth%2FkRNq+%28Ascension+with+Mother+Earth+and+Current+State+of+Affairs%29
    The Rothschild Khazarian Mafia is dying but its minions afraid of their heinous crimes being exposed are pushing for WWlll through its NATO lackeys and desperately want war with Russia.
    We don’t need trade deals of any kind whether it be TPPA or some other acronym. The citizens of a sovereign country should be free to trade with whomever, wherever, whenever. Problem for NZ is that its still a private corporation run by a lackey CEO masquerading as a prime minister bowing to the dictates of wrinkled old men (some of whom, it has been suggested, are not of this world).
    To hell with all and any government-run trade deals and to hell with living on land owned by The City of London. Freedom for the people first and from that position we can decide individually on our own trade deals, thank you.

  3. These so called trade agreements are not about trade they are about protection for corporations and financial markets. Noam Chompsky made clear this point quite recently.
    Simple trade is not the same as totalitarian corporate control and global financial monoply of benefit to no one but the one percent and their overpaid global gaggle of Ceo’s and other aparatchiks.

  4. This is the big guys coming to take ov er the small defenceless countries not a free trade agreement but a set of rules these big guys set to control our counties who are smaller with weak Governments who intend to sell out our future forever believe this.

    • You are quite right. The only thing the left can do is wage a guerrilla war on the ground here and take back this non-country. That is where we are headed. Words will achieve nothing.

  5. ‘May car sales in China. These were up strongly, rising +11.3% year-on-year, although only 1 in 16 was an electric vehicle.’

    Around 1.5 million new cars a month, or close to 20 million a year, most of them burning fossil fuels and generating massive amounts of pollution.

    There can be no hope of stabilising atmospheric CO2, and therefore no hope for the next generation when such insanity is promoted and celebrated.

    Daily CO2

    June 12, 2016: 407.26 ppm

    June 12, 2015: 402.46 ppm

    Up 4.80 ppm (versus 2005-2014 average of 2.11 ppm

  6. The politics of the US are beyond my comprehension but apparently General Dunford and Paul Ryan heading the Republic of the US have put into motion the revaluation of the US Treasury Notehttp://inteldinarchronicles.blogspot.co.nz/2016/06/final-sitrep-000000-est-monday-61316-1.html.
    I guess Pres Obama and his TPPA and all other “deals” just flew out the window. Question for Key: now who ya gonna bow to?

  7. The Chinese saw how easily the National government went belly up over the TPPA so they figured New Zealand was easy pickings for their variety of free trade agreement.
    A Chinese free trade agreement will be just as bad as the TPPA, in all likelihood.
    The only difference is that the Chinese won’t bother to pretend that they are doing it for our benefit.
    Might even be good for tourism because the Chinese like New Zealand as a tourist destination.

    • Yes, we signed a Free Slave Agreement with the world’s largest dictatorship in 2008. We are now heading towards becoming a colony of China, not the USA.

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